Sunday, June 10, 2012

Steamboat Dinner in Singapore

Steamboat refers to an interesting dining style prevalent in parts of Asia.  The dinner consists of a simmering pot of stock at the center of the dining table.  While the pot is kept simmering, a variety of thinly sliced meats, seafood and vegetables are placed into the pot and cooked at the table.  This type of dining is also known as Hotpot or Chinese Fondue in other parts of Asia.

Hot pot cooking has existed for a long time in China.  It became widespread as early as 700 AD during the reign of the Tang dynasty in China and regional variations soon developed.  While the traditional coal-heated steamboat has been replaced with electric or gas stoves, this communal style of dining continues continues to be very popular in Singapore, China and Korea.

It was a warm, balmy evening in Singapore and I was in one of the small steamboat buffet restaurants with a few close friends.  The restaurant had about thirty different ingredients for the steamboat including thin slices of pork, beef, lamb, a variety of mushrooms, fish balls, crabs, prawns, fish, greens, wontons, etc.  We chose the spicy tom yum stock, made multiple trips to the buffet stations bringing plates of ingredients and had a whale of a time.

The street was full of similar restaurants, all crowded with families and large groups of friends having a blast.  Street food in Asia rocks!

By the time we were done, the plates were piled high and I was drenched in sweat due to the humid weather and the heat from the pot.  But the food and the experience was something I will remember and like to repeat again!

We finally headed to a nearly shopping mall to cool off with some ice-cream sundaes.  Overall a very interesting and fun time.  BTW, the Japanese Shabu-Shabu is very similar to Steamboat dining; however, Shabu Shabu tends to be pricey and high-end due to the ingredients used (thinly sliced high quality beef).

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